Cast your minds back to a time when metal music was not cool. Nay, indeed, a time when metal was anathema to all that was considered to be “chic” and “in.” A time when your favorite bands were actually encouraged by the music industry to play slower, cut their hair, and write sensitive lyrics about their childhoods. Yes, this unfortunately really happened.
Our new semi-irregular feature “90s Metal Weirdness” focuses on albums released between 1992 and 2001 and which we all probably would rather forget. But in the service of publicly shaming the musicians involved, we have pushed forward. — AMG
Body Count // Body Count (1992)
The Back Story: Well this isn’t your classic “Metal guy gets told to cut his hair” story, now is it? Instead, this was one of the most prolific and hardcore rappers of his day making a metal record. To be honest with you, I’m not sure what the background of this is, so I’m going to make it up. My guess is that Ice T was sitting at home one day and he was like “You know what? All these fucking metal bands are adding rap to their music. Fuck that, I’m going to make a fucking metal record.” And then, well, he got a band together and he actually did it… to our dismay.
What Does It Sound Like: Well, it sounds like Ice T doing metal. Dude can’t sing, so basically he raps the whole time, and arguably the record is more punk than metal in my opinion. The riffs are simple, almost more punk rock or Bad Brains than Iron Maiden, and the drums are pretty simple aside from “Beat Master V taking [us] motherfuckers to South Central” on the band’s eponymous track. There’s maybe a moment or two of classic kind of Black Sabbath riffing, but for the most part it kinda sounds like dude who really don’t listen to metal trying to make metal. And while Ernie C could actually play a mean guitar solo, well, history hasn’t been kind to Body Count.
Are There Any Songs About Molestation? No. But there is this choice lyric: “What we really trying to say is that Body Count loves everybody, we love Mexican girls, black girls, oriental girls. It really don’t matter. If you from Mars and you got a pussy, we will fuck it. That’s all we saying.” To which someone responds: “Word.”
Stupid Political Lyrics? Actually, while there was a huge stink about this record, including some priceless footage of Charlton Heston reciting the reading parts of them, which actually led to my group of friends when I was a kid doing what we called “interpretive poetic readings” of Body Count lyrics in order to amuse ourselves [Thanks to Angry Metal Older Brother for introducing that idea to me – AMG]. “Late at night.. evil dick, he comes to me.. he says.. Don’t sleep alone.” Still, this record actually had some pretty good political stuff about blacks, prisons, college education, drug addiction and the way shit was going down in LA at the time. For those of you not alive then, shit was real—as they say. So, sure, there was some pretty stupid shit here, but it was mixed out with some insightful shit, too, like “Bowels of the Devil” and “The Real Problem” and “A Statistic,” which actually addressed sociological issues of race in the USA.
Is There Any Rapping On The Album? Uh. It was fucking Ice T. The question should be “Was there any singing on the album?” The response is: not that you’d want to hear.
Were Haircuts Involved? I assume every single man on this album had a haircut of one type or another.
How Bad Was It Really? It was pretty bad. Songs like “Voodoo” and “Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight” were just heinously bad. And while “KKK Bitch,” “Cop Killer” and “There Goes the Neighborhood” were funny and definitely were politically loaded to the point where Steel Druhm might just quit writing for this blog because I’m referencing them without condemning them directly [angry letter of resignation pending – Steel Druhm], the biggest problem with this record is the amount of fucking filler there was. There are entire songs where Ice T just screams “Body Count” 100 times. I don’t even know how many times they actually arrived at the house, but they were definitely there and intent on letting you know it. Oh, and “The Winner Loses” is right in line for late 80s/early 90s cheese awards for ballads, despite being the only power ballad where the vocalist is actually packing a fucking uzi in the video.
The Aftermath: Actually Body Count had serious repercussions, caused a huge stir and not only caused Warner to pull the record and replace it with Body Count‘s version of Ice T‘s track “Freedom of Speech,” but also called attention to the rash of police brutality in LA. In any case, everyone got all upset about it and he got his contract terminated and the record got censored and this record got way more attention than it ever should have, ’cause it’s actually pretty fucking stinky. Aside from the social politics of it, which after thinking long and hard about were actually quite profound, this record really was kind of representative of the worse excesses of a world sick as hell of Trixter.